I supported Remain in the referendum campaign, but made it clear that I would accept the national result. The majority voted to leave and I have therefore supported reaching a Deal with the EU for an orderly exit. I voted 3 times in Parliament in support of the Deal put forward by Theresa May, but each time the vote was lost.
I consider a Deal with the EU to be in the national and local interest and believe most constituents agree with my approach. I will continue supporting reaching a Deal with the EU.
There are MPs now expressing concern over a No Deal Brexit and saying they wished they had voted for the Deal. They should have. Most others attacking a No Deal Brexit are against any Deal with the EU and against Brexit. They do not accept the democratic result of the referendum.
Insisting on a second referendum because you do not like the result of the first is undemocratic and would lead to further referendums on key constitutional questions, which we thought had been decided, such as Scottish independence. Damagingly, it would breach the important principle that referendums are only used to decide a constitutional question for a generation.
I supported Jeremy Hunt in the leadership campaign and we lost. I have therefore congratulated Boris Johnson on becoming Prime Minister and support his efforts to reach a Deal with the EU. He will need some time before 31st October to do so.
If we end up leaving without a Deal, those who have refused to support a Deal will be the ones who should examine their consciences.
Since preparing my statement, the Prime Minister has announced that parliament will prorogue in the second week of the fortnight of the September sitting and return on 14th October for Queen’s Speech. This means the Conference recess is increased by one week and gives the Prime Minister time to prepare his legislative programme for the next year and hopefully negotiate a Deal with the EU over Brexit. There will still be time for parliament to consider Brexit in the coming fortnight and in the fortnight before Brexit Day at the end of October. I am supporting efforts to reach an agreement.